Best ThinkPad to buy in 2021: ThinkPad X1 Carbon, ThinkPad X1 Nano, and more

    The ThinkPad line of notebooks has been a recommended choice of business and enterprise professionals for decades. The brand came into existence in 1990 at the IBM Yamato Facility in Japan. It’s also the same place where it got its original box-shaped design inspired by the Japanese bento lunch box. Lenovo took over the ThinkPad brand in 2005 when it acquired IBM’s personal computing business. With a robust build quality and class-leading keyboard, they come with a stealthy black finish allowing them to fit into almost any type of environment. ThinkPad notebooks are also distinguished by their red joystick pointer called TrackPoint, giving users an additional way to interact with the laptop.

    Today, ThinkPad laptops have a distinct look reminiscent of the original design but available in different sizes and hardware features at various price points. Here’s a list of some of the best ones that you can buy today.

    Navigate this guide:

    • Best overall: ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga
    • Best clamshell: ThinkPad X1 Carbon
    • Best convertible: ThinkPad X1 Yoga
    • Best thin and light: ThinkPad X1 Nano
    • Best for power: ThinkPad P17
    • Best mainstream: ThinkPad T14
    • Best budget: ThinkPad L13
    • Best Chromebook: ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook

    Best overall: ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga green background

    Announced at CES 2021, the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is the most premium ThinkPad you can get. The laptop makes use of high-end materials, including titanium, carbon fiber, and magnesium-aluminum alloy. It’s also the thinnest ThinkPad ever at just 11.5mm, and quite naturally, the most expensive one as well. The flagship business laptop comes with a convertible form factor and, instead of the traditional black finish, comes in a color that is called ‘Titanium by Lenovo.’ It’s powered by Intel’s latest 11th-gen Tiger Lake processors configurable with up the Intel Core i7-1180G7 vPro, with 16GB of LPDDR4X 4267MHz memory, 1TB PCIe SSD, and a great 13.5-inch 3:2 display with QHD resolution. It’s also Intel Evo certified with the latest and fastest connectivity options, including 5G, Thunderbolt 4, and Wi-Fi 6.

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga

    Best clamshell: ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9

    Front view of ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9

    The Thinkpad X1 Carbon is a top recommendation if you are looking for a traditional clamshell design. It has been rated as one of the best business laptops for a while now, and the latest Gen 9 model definitely impressed us, which you can read in our review.  While it comes in a lightweight package at just 1.1kg, it manages to offer great performance thanks to Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake processors. Some of the key upgrades from last year’s model include a larger trackpad and a taller 16:10 display available with up to 4K resolution. Lenovo offers the laptop with up to 32GB of RAM, 2TB of SSD storage, and some interesting optional add-ons like 5G and a Carbon-Fiber Weave top cover.

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen9

    Best convertible: ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6

    ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen6 blue background

    Up until the introduction of the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga was the flagship convertible from Lenovo under the ThinkPad brand. Sure, the latest 6th-generation ThinkPad X1 Yoga isn’t made out of Titanium or as svelte as the X1 Titanium, but there’s very little to compromise here. You get a wider selection of ports, a matte 16:10 display, a better performance package, and even a built-in stylus. It’s available with up to an 11th-gen Intel Core i7 vPro processor, 32GB of LPDDRX RAM, 2TB of PCIe Gen 4 storage. The 14-inch display IPS touchscreen is available with either full-HD resolution, or you can max it out with a UHD+ (3840 x 2400) variant that comes with HDR400, Dolby Vision, 500 nits brightness, and 90% DCI P3 Color Gamut.

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6

    Best thin and light: ThinkPad X1 Nano

    Front view of Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano in one hand

    As the name suggests, the ThinkPad X1 Nano is the most compact and lightweight ThinkPad on the market today. Weighing under a kilogram, the notebook is recommended for users who want a reliable machine that they can carry around with ease. It comes with a great-looking 13-inch QHD+ (2160 x 1350) 450-nit panel that supports Dolby Vision HDR at the same time manages to offer a good battery life. The notebook can be configured with up to an 11th-gen Intel Core i7-1180G7 vPro processor, 16GB LPDDR4x 4266MHz memory, 1TB PCIe SSD, and optional 5G connectivity.

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

    Best for power: ThinkPad P17

    ThinkPad P17 workstation yellow background

    Looking for the best performance package? Then you need to look at the ThinkPad P17. It can be configured with the 10th-gen Intel Core i9-10980HK vPro, an octa-core processor that can hit clock speeds of up to 5.3GHz. If that isn’t enough, Lenovo also offers the option of a workstation-class Intel Xeon W-10885M vPro processor. For graphics-intensive workloads, the laptop offers the option of NVIDIA Quadro going all the way up to an RTX 5000. With up to 128GB of DDR4 memory and 4TB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD, this is one ThinkPad laptop that means business! The new ThinkPad P17 Gen 2 has just been confirmed that now features the new 11th-gen Tiger Lake-H processors with similar GPU options as Gen 1. The new model will be available from July at US$1,779.

    Lenovo ThinkPad P17

    Best mainstream: ThinkPad T14 Gen 2

    ThinkPad T14 Gen 2 pink background

    The Lenovo ThinkPad T14 is the best mainstream ThinkPad that should suit the needs of most business and corporate professionals. The design is dated but there’s a lot to like about it as well. For instance, the laptop comes with a wide range of I/O ports and the keyboard offers a generous 1.8mm key travel. The notebook can be configured with the latest 11th-gen Intel Core i7 vPro processor, up to 48GB of memory, and 2TB of PCIe SSD storage. Graphics options include Intel Iris Xe or the NVIDIA MX450 and you get all the important security features that one expects from a ThinkPad machine.

    Lenovo ThinkPad T14 Gen 2

    Best budget: ThinkPad L13 Gen 2

    Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 2 blue background

    The ThinkPad L13 is meant for customers looking for a compact 13-inch ThinkPad laptop on a budget. It features the rock-solid ThinkPad design that’s tested against 12 military-grade requirements and over 200 quality checks. The entry-level model can be configured with the latest 11th-gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor going all the way to a Core i7-1185G7 vPro. You get up to 16GB of DDR4 3200MHz RAM, and 1TB PCIe SSD. It also comes with a strong set of I/O ports, including Thunderbolt 4, while wireless options include Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2.

    Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 2

    Best Chromebook: ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook

    Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook grey background

    Bet you didn’t know there was a ThinkPad rocking the Chromebook badge! The ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook brings everything you love about ThinkPads but with Chrome OS on board. It features the distinguished premium ThinkPad design in a convertible form factor and is powered by AMD chipsets ranging from the Athlon Gold 3150C, up to the Ryzen 7 3700C. Display options include a 13.3-inch full-HD panel or a UHD (3840 x 2160) OLED panel and you can easily connect an external monitor using the HDMI or USB-C ports. Other important features include AMD Radeon Graphics, 16GB DDR4 2400MHz memory, and 12 hour battery life.

    Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook

    Our pick would be the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga as it’s the most premium-looking ThinkPad we’ve seen in a long time. It’s also an important product as it signifies where the brand is heading in terms of design innovation. Check out our roundup of the best laptops to buy in 2021 and if you’re picky when it comes to the brand, we also have the best HP and best Dell laptops.

    Recent Articles

    Related Stories

    Stay on op - Ge the daily news in your inbox